In the Land of No Right Angles by Daphne Beal is not a book I would normally read. It’s kind of like a travelogue, and while I would like to do some traveling, Asia holds almost no interest for me. Maybe that’s because I haven’t been anywhere else (like France!), but I’m just not interested.
BUT! This book got a really good review in Publisher’s Weekly, and it was mentioned in the year end recap of Publisher’s Weekly. I’m sure you all know that when you read lots of books, for one to stand out amongst the crowd means it’s something special. I really couldn’t find anything negative about this book, so I went ahead and checked it out from my library.
In the Land of No Right Angles tells the story of Alex, an American girl who spends a year in Nepal when she’s just 20 years old. Eight months into that year, Alex’s friend, Will, an American who is living in Nepal, asks her to find a girl for him when she mentions that she’ll be trekking in the central hill region of Nepal. Alex agrees and sets out to find this girl.
When Alex finds this girl, Maya, living with her family in the country, Maya is very poor and just wants out. Anything is better than where she is now, so she quickly agrees to leave with Alex because Will has a job set up for her.
Alex quickly learns that trying to help someone out of poverty who has no education is difficult at best. Alex wanted to be Maya’s savior, but finds that not everything is under her control.
Having left Maya with Will after her visa expired, four years pass with minimal contact and finally Alex makes it so that she can return and see her friend. This time, though, Maya is living with a man who beats her. Alex once again does her best to help Maya, but finds that choices are limited for a country girl with no education.
Alex has a hard time watching Maya flounder and make decisions that Alex doesn’t think are the best. But Alex first went to Nepal very young, very naive, and very much an idealist. It takes Alex a long time to learn that Maya is responsible for her own life, and as much as Alex would like to *fix* Maya’s life, that’s not her job.
I really enjoyed this book. This is a quick read, but there’s a lot going on. I like the author’s spare prose. She deftly handles descriptions of Nepal, letting me *see* it without dense descriptions.
This would be an excellent book club pick. If you enjoy traveling, I’m sure you’d like this book as well. (Hi, Jill!) If you like interesting, dynamic characters, you’ll like this book.
Rating: 88 out of 100